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A breath of fresh air: Robert Goodwill reviews 'Clarkson's Farm: Season 2'

Jeremy Clarkson and Kaleb Cooper | Image courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

3 min read

Jeremy Clarkson continues to lay bare the tough realities of farming life – but Kaleb and Gerald are the real stars of the show

Jeremy Clarkson is controversial but sometimes he can go too far – as in his recent comments on Meghan Markle.

However on Clarkson’s Farm, he deploys his forthright approach to good effect. The first season was a breath of fresh air for real-life farmers like me. People often see the countryside through the prism of BBC Countryfile with rare breeds, goats’ cheese and couples who have given up the city rat race to produce organic duck eggs on a smallholding in Wales.

Clarkson’s Farm told it like it is with constant struggles against the all-pervading British weather, escapologist sheep and bureaucracy – coupled with Jeremy’s own naïve lack of a basic understanding of farming.

This new season is pretty much the same thing. I’ve seen the first two episodes after being asked by The House magazine to write a review. Cattle are the new venture, and they display the same Harry Houdini qualities as the sheep last year. I suspect they were looking for something more succulent than the rough grass in the Diddly Squat pasture.

If you didn’t know the technicalities of artificial insemination before, you will now. I, for one, was disappointed that Jeremy didn’t go the “full Herriot” himself!

Jeremy never does anything by half; witness his monster Lamborghini tractor. A £10,000 crush pen for 20 cattle, or a couple of five-star hen palaces were always going to make it impossible to turn a profit on these enterprises. He also plans to convert his lambing shed into a restaurant. Future episodes may involve heated skirmishes with West Oxfordshire’s planning department.

If you didn’t know the technicalities of artificial insemination before, you will now

The real stars of the show are young Kaleb, who never fails to impress with his skills. Not to mention Gerald, a real son of the soil – although no one can really work out what he is saying in his toasting bread thick dialect. The chemistry between Kaleb and Jeremy is brilliant. The youngster has infinite patience explaining to his boss why his plans are impossible.

Kaleb also has a refreshing disdain for city life and loves his rural comfort zone. He reveals that not only has he never been into an Indian restaurant, but he has never been on a train either. Why would he when everything he needs is right on his doorstep?

The one character central to most farms but missing from Jeremy’s is a bank manager. Most of his “brilliant” ideas would not amuse even the most open-minded relationship manager at Barclays or HSBC. We discover that despite getting a subsidy of £82,000 the farm only turned a profit of £144 last year. As the outright owner of 1,000 acres Clarkson has neither a landlord to pay nor, it seems, a mortgage to service. So although Clarkson’s farm shows tough everyday farming challenges, it doesn’t even start to touch on the financial pressures that keep most farmers awake at night.

Maybe, if his recent Sun article means this will be the last season of the show, Jeremy may one day feel the cold winds of economic reality. I somehow doubt it.

Robert Goodwill is Conservative MP for Scarborough and Whitby and chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Clarkson's Farm: Season 2
Broadcaster: Amazon Prime Video

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